Another important Halloween note

Last year I noted that Twix is awesome and kids hate coconut. This year I want to expand my advice to the candy-givers out there:

  • No apples. This is not candy. I hope your house gets egged.
  • No pennies. In addition to not being candy, all this tells me is that you’re cheap.
  • No quarters. You’re still a cheap, non-candy giver.
  • No dog bones. I know this is a weird one, but I actually got this once.
  • If you leave out a bunch of bags of candy with a note saying “TAKE ONE”, you should expect one child to TAKE ALL. That’s what you get for being lazy.

And finally, for the parents: Stop making your kids wear jackets. I know it’s probably cold out there, but 1) the common cold does not actually come from being cold and 2) your kids have the best costumes, like, EVER! Let them show off their awesomeness for one night.

Herman Cain makes ridiculous ads

I’m not sure if my favorite part is the Herman Cain pedosmile at the end, the random smoking, the excessive zooming, or the made-up non-word the guy says at the 34 second mark.

The origins of morality and Christian arguments

Christians have two primary arguments for the origins of our morality. Both fail to be logically convincing. (That’s sort of a theme with Christianity, isn’t it?)

The first argument I want to address is the one that says we get our morality from the Bible. This is the easiest one to dismiss; simply pointing out that people cherry-pick what they consider to be good and bad in the Bible shows that, at the least, even Christians disagree that the Bible is even entirely moral. (The Christian excuse that some of the evil things in the Bible were only culturally relevant falls on its face. God still commanded evil things, including rape and forced marriages as a result of rape. Christians don’t get to argue for objective morality and then make their figurehead into a cultural relativist.)

The second argument from Christians is one designed to address secular claims. That is, we know that many of the good things found in one religion will be found in another. In fact, such things will be found without any religion whatsoever. Humans converge on common ideas of what is right and wrong quite often (and this, incidentally, also goes to defeating the first argument). The Christian answer to this is that God has put within us an innate knowledge of what is right and wrong – we just need to access it, something Christians presumably have done better than others. What’s amazing about this argument is that its proponents don’t seem to realize that it is entirely vacuous. Let’s break it down:

Bill the Christian: We get our morality from God.

Denise the Skeptic: But what about those who don’t believe in your god? And those who don’t even know of your god?

Bill: God put that morality within them at birth. They just need to find it.

Denise: Okay, but how do you know that?

Bill: I just believe it.

Denise: So then do you agree that your argument is equally valid in the hands of anyone? Do you see that anyone can say ‘My god gave us morality. I know so because I believe so.’?

Bill: Well…wait a minute…hm…

Denise: Or I could say I believe our morality comes from unicorns. It’s all the same, isn’t it?

Bill: UNICORNS?! How dare you! I can’t believe you would compare my LORD to unicorns! Why can’t you engage in a civil argument? I don’t even have to answer you because you’ve proven you’re wrong by offending me! So militant…


Okay, that last part took a real wild swing, but I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve had Christians use offense as an excuse for why they are unable to argue their case.

The fact is, arguing that our sense of morality comes from God because he put it within us at birth is a non-starter. Obviously it will not work for a non-Christian because it assumes the existence of the Christian God, but it shouldn’t even work for Bible-thumping Christians. It pretends to have knowledge of something but when push comes to shove, it turns out the entire premise is mere faith. That is literally the furthest possible thing from evidence and is entirely useless to logic.

Maybe there is a god

Of course, if there is a god, he cedes his time to the devil at the end of the season.

Naturopathy in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire House recently had before it a measure to require health insurers to cover patients using naturopaths as primary physicians. (I don’t know how NH defines naturopaths, but in Maine they are not physicians.) The NH House did not pass that measure, though they have passed something which isn’t much better:

Instead, the requirement will be limited to the individual market, where people already had the option to use a naturopath, since consumers in that market pay a percentage of the cost of each visit, unlike an HMO-type system in which a physician acts as a gatekeeper to prevent the over-utilization of specialists…

Committee Chair Rep. John Hunt, R-Rindge, said insurers are upset because under current contracts, physicians are supposed to be able to refer patients to a specialist, not naturopaths.

Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, argued that it was good public policy not to discriminate. Besides, she said, naturopaths are less likely to refer patients to specialists, meaning lower costs.

What’s really unfortunate here is that Schlachman does not understand the reason naturopaths are less likely to refer patients to specialists: they do not have the requisite knowledge needed to make a proper determination for what the best course of medical action is for an individual. Go take a look at the few accredited naturopathic schools around the country – the course loads include a bunch of homeopathy, acupuncture, something known as cupping, and other forms of malarkey. Hardly any of it is science. People would be better offer finding a first semester pre-med student than going to a naturopath. (The same goes for people who seek any form of alternative medicine. After all, if it was medicine, it would just be called that: medicine.)

The end result of this measure in NH will be less cost for insurers, more business for naturopaths, and less health for consumers. It’s a bad deal.

Little Adolf Hitler is so cute

His parents are dicks, though:

Adolf Hitler is one of the most evil men to ever walk the face of the planet. He also happens to be a little boy in New Jersey. Adolf Hitler Campbell was taken away from his parents in 2009 because welfare officials said that his name was a form of abuse.

And Adolf Hitler isn’t the only strange name in the Campbell family. Heath and Deborah Campbell named their daughter JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. But is an offensive name reason enough to divide a family?

I can’t say I hate laws like Germany has barring the use of such stupid names, but this probably isn’t a reason to take a child away in the US. I’m not sure, but I doubt it even has any legal grounding.

However, I do believe the child should be allowed once a birthday for the rest of his life to punch his parents square in the face with no repercussions.

Thought of the day

This is a bit early, but can we just rename Halloween All Exposed Girls’ Night? Or maybe All Bad Movies Week?

World Series update

I’m not highly invested in either team (though I am cheering for the Cardinals), but at least this has been a pretty good series.

Other ways of knowing

It’s a popular meme amongst the sans-science crowd to claim there are ‘ways of knowing’ besides science. They don’t simply mean ways of ‘knowing’ things like whether or not someone loves us, but rather they mean ways of knowing significant, world view-altering things beyond our personal lives. That is, they want to bring their non-methods up to the level of knowing that science gives us (or, perhaps, they want to bring science down to their level). It’s sort of cute, but it never stands up to scrutiny. There is a reason, after all, why no respectable institution teaches that Adam and Eve actually existed – even if genetic facts didn’t tell us they are 100% fictitious, religion offers zero in the way of knowing otherwise.

So that brings me to Deepak Chopra. The anti-science quack is always embarrassing himself one way or another, and he does so in this video in exactly the same way the mainstream religious embarrass themselves when they talk about ‘other ways of knowing’:

The guy is entirely unable to answer the question. He waffles and waddles about, at some point launching into a weak attack of science, implying the entire field needs to evolve to include some weird, unscientific ideas he has. Just like the Expelled creationists, he wants to redefine science to fit the ideas he wishes were true.

The fact is, science is the best way of knowing that we have. It offers concrete methods for coming to conclusions as objectively as humanely possible. Chopra and other religious nutbags (i.e., the mainstream) want to substitute that objectivity for subjectivity – if we cannot confirm or falsify a claim, then all claims become equal, and wouldn’t you know it? that makes everything equal, giving religion and ‘spirituality’ (whatever that is) quite a bit more space to operate.

Thought of the day

Random travel things that interest me more than my readers: It looks like my Haiti trip will be in March, not January (though everything is confirmed now). It is becoming more and more certain that I will be in Italy this summer, though the precise nature of the trip – whether it is guided or winged – has not been determined. And I very well may rejoin members of my Kilimanjaro trip for my planned hike up Aconcagua in Argentina – but about 6-18 months earlier than I originally thought (that is, the end of next year instead of 2013 or 2014).

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

~Mark Twain